This past weekend was my last big training ride before I start RAAM on June 13th. My plan was to go to the Colorado Rockies, to train in higher altitudes within the mountain ranges over the weekend. Weeks of coordinating logistics for a 3 day 600+ mile training ride occurred; flights were booked for me and my crew, I had shipped my bike and other items ahead of my flight as well to our team member Ed Cepulis who lives in Boulder, CO. We were in constant communications with Earth Networks, our weather forecasting partner, as there was a big winter storm approaching our original route to the north, so we had to plan an alternate route south. Mother Nature had other plans as there was snow everywhere, dumping 4+ inches or more in Steamboat, Vail and Boulder! So Thursday morning we decided to call off the trip to the Rockies, and develop a “Plan B”, since RAAM was only a few weeks away and this would be the last opportunity to do high mileage. Every cyclist needs to “taper” three weeks before the main event to give the body enough time to rest and recover.
Wednesday evening I was to give a speech to the Passageways team in Indianapolis, Indiana. I felt a crushing pain in my chest, which put me in St. Vincent hospital with CT scans and blood work. They ruled out a blood clot and my heart was strong. Looks like the week sleeping in a Hypoxico Altitude Training tent may have contributed to the feeling that a big dog was sitting on my chest. The theory is that my lungs may have been impacted by the artificially induced altitude I was released from the hospital after a high dose of Aproxin (Advil x5), I was a new man giving my book talk with only four hours of sleep.
I flew home Thursday afternoon and finalized Plan B to give it one final shot before the big start June 13th. I planned out another ride along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, with my crew Ozzie Reyes - Chica and Brandon Snow joining me. We had weather support from Earth Networks again for this weekends ride. Customizing my personal vehicle, loading it up with bikes and gear, I set out Friday night. We started in Marshall, Virginia at 7 pm and stopped in Luray, Virginia at midnight. I cycled 68 miles with 5,300 ft vertical on Skyline Drive. I did get caught in a thunderstorm around 11 pm and I had my phone in my jacket. My phone eventually stopped working this weekend. I went to sleep around 1:30 am and woke up and was back on the bike at 3:30 am Saturday morning.
Saturday Day 2 ride was very warm with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. The Blue Ridge Parkway was too foggy to ride in the morning so I took a different route that runs parallel to the parkway on Route 340. I cycled about 100 miles before my crew met up with me. I climbed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and experienced again the sensation of cycling up the steep grades and descending. I did hit another rain storm around 5 pm between Buchanan, Virginia to Greenville. Earth Networks was great as they provided me real time weather data and would call my crew and ask if I was wearing a rain jacket and if not to put one on. I took two 5 min naps along the way. Without my phone it was a different ride without being able to listen to my music or audiobooks. I did have my GPS with me so my crew could track my location. I rode 220 miles, 13,000 feet vertical, averaging 14.85 miles per hour. I arrived in Waynesboro, Virginia around 9 pm and had a nice dinner with my crew.
I slept around 3 hours and started to cycle back home on Sunday morning. I said goodbye to my crew in Leesburg, Virginia and arrived back home at 3 pm. I rode 154 miles with 7,400 ft vertical on the last day. The key to these training rides to get my body ready with 2-3 hours sleep per night while cycling a long distance in the day. Overall I felt very good. I did not get the distance I wanted to achieve this weekend, but like everyone I am balancing family, work and life. A big thank you to my crew Ozzie and Brandon for supporting me this weekend. They will be joining my official RAAM crew for the 12 days.